The Committee to Protect Journalists has expressed outrage at the treatment of its Africa programme coordinator Angela Quintal and sub-Saharan Africa representative Muthoki Mumo by the Tanzanian government, and disappointment at the South African government's response to their detention.
The CPJ says it is clear that the Tanzanian authorities intended to intimidate and harass Quintal and Mumo. Quintal, former editor of the Mail & Guardian, and Mumo were detained by Tanzanian authorities on November 7. Their passports were taken from them. They were released the following day and left the country.
At a briefing on Monday, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told reporters that she was satisfied with the Tanzanian government's reasons for detaining the journalists.
The Tanzanian government said that Quintal and Mumo had been detained because they were travelling on tourist visas, when they were actually there to do business.
Sisulu appealed to all South African journalists abroad to comply with their host country's laws. The South African National Editors' Forum previously said that they were "deeply disturbed" by the "worrying detention", and questioned why authorities had taken Quintal's phone. Her social media accounts were also deactivated.
"In fact, both were travelling on valid visas, as part of a fact-finding and networking trip to better understand local press freedom conditions," CPJ executive director Joel Simon said in a statement on Tuesday.
He said Quintal's and Mumo's visas were valid.
"Having debriefed with our Africa programme coordinator Angela Quintal and sub-Saharan Africa representative Muthoki Mumo about their detention, we are outraged by their treatment at the hands of Tanzanian authorities," said CPJ executive director Joel Simon.
"Both had valid visas, so we have concluded that the intention of Tanzanian authorities was to harass and intimidate our team. CPJ is also disappointed that, after all South Africa did to assist the team on the ground, its foreign minister would now repeat falsehoods about their detention."